Female Labour Force Status and Fertility Behaviour-Some Theoretical, Methodological and Policy Issues

Publication Year : 1979

The status of women and their role in community and family decision. making, including timing and number of births and choice of contraception, have an important bearing on improving the standard of living, success of family planning and long• term reduction in fertility of a country. In a society, whose women depend on their children for social and economic security and lack legitimate alternatives to childbearing, fertility is likely to be high. Mandelbaum [34] summarised a number of studies relating to fertility and motivation in Indian society. The most commonly reported reason for desiring large families was the absence of alternative roles for women to the role of wife-mother. This absence of alternative roles for women has often been suggested as a stumbling block to diffusion of small family size norm in developing countries [56; 37J. For effective reduction of population growth, the proponents of the ‘beyond family planning approach’ emphasize the complementarity of the roles of men and women, creation of alternatives to childbearing and reduction of dependence on children by providing educational opportunity and economic independence for women [56; 2; 3; 15; 28]. Of particular interest is the nature of relationship between female education, labour force participation and conjugal role of women on the one hand and fertility and the use of contraception on the other. In this study, an attempt is made to examine the dynamics of the relationship between female labour force status and fertility behaviour (i.e. use of contraception and fertility) and also to evaluate the implication of the relationship for reduction of fertility, particularly with reference to the developing countries of the world.

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